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Nuclear bomb ban: time to sign the treaty

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Nuclear bomb ban, One month on, WILPF, RCW, UNGA, History was made in 2017 when nuclear weapons were banned under international law.

On 7 July 122 governments adopted a new treaty at the United Nations making the possession of these horrific weapons of mass destruction illegal, as were other related activities such as testing, using, developing, or assisting with nuclear weapons – which includes among other things financing or planning to use such weapons.

The treaty also includes provisions for assisting victims of nuclear weapons use and testing, and environmental remediation.

It is the first treaty to recognise the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on indigenous people and on women.

From 1952 to 1963, the United Kingdom for example, exploded nine aboveground nuclear bombs in Australia, in Emu, Monte Bello, and Maralinga, affecting 11 aboriginal tribes.

Radioactive contamination was widespread, and entry into large contaminated areas is still prohibited.

Likewise the effect of nuclear weapons use and testing on women is an important aspect of nuclear violence that is often overlooked, but is now referenced in the preamble of the new treaty, along with reference to the importance of women’s participation in disarmament.

The new treaty is a normative one that is strongly rooted in concern about the humanitarian and environmental impact of nuclear weapons.

It was adopted by vote with 122 countries voting in favour and only one of those present – the Netherlands – against.

It will open for signature on 20 September 2017 in New York at the UN General Assembly.

Fifty countries must ratify it for the treaty to enter into force.

Learn more about the treaty by reading this guide.

We must keep up the pressure!

The support expressed for the treaty over the last several years continues into this new phase where we will all need to work even more closely with states and legislators to join and implement it, including the nuclear-armed states that have so far boycotted this process.

Here’s how you can take action:

Click here to see how your country voted.

If it voted yes, encourage your government to sign the treaty at a high level when it opens for signature in September. Engage with parliamentarians to support the ratification phase that follows signature.

If your country did not participate in the talks, or voted against its adoption, keep up the dialogue by pointing out to your MP the important impact that this agreement will make.

You can also join the campaign to stop banks supporting the financing of such weapons.

Keep up the writing, tweeting, and other social media pressure! Follow @RCW and #nuclearban.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom’s disarmament programme, Reaching Critical Will, provided daily monitoring and analysis of the talks through its publication, the Nuclear Ban Daily.

“This treaty is an amazing feat of collective action by people who came together to do something that had not been tried before,” Reaching Critical Will’s director Ray Acheson wrote in her final editorial for the Nuclear Ban Daily.

“Like anything created by people, it has its imperfections.

“But it’s a good start on the road to abolition, and it gives a glimpse of what is possible in this world.

“That, all on its own, has meaning.”

This article was originally posted with the headline ‘Nuclear Bomb ban: one more month’ but this has been changed to reflect that month being up…

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